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Leadership needed to rebuild Canterbury

Published: Mon 19 Sep 2011 11:09 AM
Leadership needed to rebuild Canterbury
The next Labour Government will intervene to give Cantabrians affordable choices to help rebuild their homes, businesses and lives after the devastating earthquakes, says Labour Leader Phil Goff.
Phil Goff today released Labour's Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Package.
"Everything in this package is designed to kick-start the rebuild and give residents and businesses the certainty they need to get the Canterbury region and economy moving again.
"These are extraordinary times for Canterbury and the Government must respond accordingly. Business as usual won't cut it.
"We believe the Government needs to take a more active role in the rebuild. A year on from the first quake, Cantabrians are saying that not enough progress has been made. Canterbury needs leadership, transparency and accountability. This policy provides that.
"Labour is not prepared to sit back and leave the recovery to market forces We will act decisively."
Labour will:
* Acquire 1500 sections and on-sell them at cost to Red Zone residents
* Ring-fence a maximum of $100 million from the Canterbury Earthquake Fund to ensure home improvements to houses in the Red Zone are reimbursed up to a maximum of $50,000
* Resolve the insurance standoff and, as a last resort, be prepared to intervene in the insurance market on a short-term basis to get the market functioning again
* Establish an independent insurance commissioner to protect consumers and resolve disputes
* Immediately release all geotechnical information with a plain English guide
* Take action to fill critical skilled worker shortages, firstly from within Christchurch and New Zealand, and provide training - including converting dole payments to apprenticeship subsidies
"Recovery comes at a cost. Government spending is ballooning but progress has stalled. Canterbury is too important to let this happen. Our policy gives people affordable choices and ownership of their future, said Phil Goff.
"This isn't about writing blank cheques. Our plan is realistic and necessary. We can't fix every problem but we can improve the outcomes for Cantabrians because we'll get involved and make things happen."
"The National Government has set aside $5.5 billion for the Canterbury Recovery Fund. As part of this, they say the net cost of purchase of Red Zone properties will be $485-$635m," said Earthquake Recovery Spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.
"Under Labour's plan to acquire 1500 sections, the cost of buying and readying the land for rebuilding will be recovered when it is on-sold to Red Zone residents who have been paid out from the Canterbury Recovery Fund.
"We will do this at cost to keep the price low so as many residents as possible can make a fresh start without suffering extreme financial hardship.
"It is expected our plan will act as a signal to the market and help keep property prices reasonable in other areas.
"We will not rule out using the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act to purchase land in the face of any evidence of price gouging by developers if that is needed to ensure a fair price is sought and paid."
Phil Goff says residents will be given access to affordable properties but may still have to contribute over and above the government pay out.
"We can't promise no one will lose out but we believe that our plan will mean losses won't be as large as under National's scheme," said Phil Goff.
"In extraordinary circumstances people need strong leadership from Government. Labour will provide that leadership and take the action needed to help Canterbury recover."

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